A TIDWORTH health centre has been forced to close its doors this week in the face of “considerable staffing challenges”.

Cross Plain Health Centre will no longer be providing general practice services from its Tidworth branch as of tomorrow (Friday).

Patients were only informed of the changes on Monday, July 15.

Despite the closure to the Tidworth branch, the practice will continue to provide patient services at its sites in Larkhill and Durrington, working together with Millstream Medical Centre.

Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group has released a statement on the situation. It added: “Recent inspections of Cross Plain Health Centre by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have also identified that further reassurances around staffing provision are required.”

Dr Celia Grummitt, partner at Cross Plain Health Centre, said: “Providing a sustainable health service for our patients is our priority and while we have been successful in being able to provide additional GPs on a short-term basis, it is not sustainable in the longer term.

“It has been a very challenging time for the practice and we have had to make some difficult decisions in the best interest of our patients.

“Working together with Millstream Medical Centre we can provide enough clinical staff to continue to be able to see patients in Larkhill and Durrington.”

For patients who use the Tidworth branch of Cross Plain Health Centre, all general practice services will stop with effect from Monday, July 22.

The last day for general practice appointments will be Friday, July 19.

Dr Chet Sheth, GP partner at Millstream Medical Centre said: “I want to assure Cross Plain patients that we are committed to continuing to provide general practice services in Larkhill and Durrington.

“We’ll be working together with clinical staff from Cross Plain Health Centre to help make the transition as comfortable as possible.

“I also want to assure our patients at Millstream Medical Centre that these changes will not affect the service we provide to them.”

Cross Plain Health Centre has written to patients to advise them of what to do next.

Tidworth town Councillor Mark Connolly is registered with the practice and says he was only informed of the closure on Monday.

Cllr Connolly said: “I think it’s quite disgraceful that its closed at such short notice. Many people are scrambling around trying to find a new doctor.

“And at this time of year there’s going to be a lot of people away, and they’re going to come back from holiday and find the surgery’s closed.

“It’s really strange. You get a message on Monday and the clinic is closed on Friday.

Patients are also advised to consider registering with other nearby health centres such as Avon Valley Practice, in Uphaven, and Castle Practice, with branches in both Tidworth and Ludgershall.

Cllr Connolly adds that the Castle Practice has been “proactive” in dealing with the situation and appear confident they will be able to take on some of the Cross Plain patients in need of a new doctor.

He said: “They feel they have got the capacity to take additional patients.

“They do say they have got additional clinicians waiting to jump in. They seem to be relatively confident, but the proof is in the pudding.”

“They have been proactive in getting on to community leaders to give us assurances, but it is a shock and it’s just very bad timing with Tidworth and Ludgershall expanding so much.”